Incredible India

Note: This blog was written in 2013 but I wanted to include it here because it covers my passions.

India – the land of a billion people thriving with energy, enth

usiasm and on

 the verge of becoming a world power. Every year when I visit India, I get mesmerized by the rapid change and the amount of g

rowth happening and the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the middle class here.

I had the opportunity to travel to a lot of different places to meet m

 

y family & friends and had the time to reflect on how much India, p

articularly Hyderabad had changed since I left 4 years ago. I was not sure if the rapid development was good or bad for the city but seeing the bright, shi

ny, smiling faces of the people here, I assumed it was all good.

I landed on the Republic Day and the whole airport and the city was decorated with our Tri-colored flag. My heart was filled with pride as I returned to my motherland and sang the National Anthem at the airport. And seeing my parents eagerly waiting for me doubled my joy.

I am proud of my upbringing where I had friends from all over India and we are still a close knit group of friends and families. The drive from the airport to my home is one of the most beautiful I have seen recently. A smooth, no traffic highway, colorful flowers adorning both sides of the road and rugged rocks surrounding the road gives a canyon like effect. We passed all the familiar establishments on the way and nostalgia filled my heart of the good old days spent here.

Once I reached home, I got busy gobbling up all the mommy made goodies which I had missed so much. 5 gulab jamuns and 3 masala dosas later, I started unpacking all the gifts I got for my parents. The light in their eyes was worth all the efforts.

The main reason I was in India was for my childhood best friend’s wedding. We have been friends since we were in day care center. We shared the same class, same bench, same apartment building and she is my only girl best friend with whom I share all secrets. So I was there to help her with the wedding preparation and watch her get married to her sweetheart. I shopped till I dropped for a couple of days and then we had the mehendi ceremony. Beautiful henna designs adorned our hands and we were giggling like small girls. I was embracing my girlie side this time with all the wedding shopping, the visits to the parlor and dressing up to look my best.

The wedding was special for other reasons too. Most of my school friends and teachers were in town and it was a big reunion for us after all these years. There are some things which never change, school friends are one of them. The moment we met, we cracked up laughing at silly things and catching up on the latest gossips and affairs of each other. We were the best batch, the naughtiest and the closest to our teachers and they were proud of us.

 I stayed throughout the wedding late into the night and my eyes were moist by the time they took the pheras. All our childhood memories flashed before my eyes and now she was about to begin a new life. My blessings will always be with her.

The next day my fun trip started to the number one beach destination in India – Goa!! Luckily my younger brother stays there and it was a good reason to visit him with my mom. The moment I landed in Goa, I could feel the relaxed, laid back attitude of the people. The place is full of Russians and Europeans who miss the sun for most part of the year and Goa is a heaven for them. I visited my brothers college lined with beautiful palm trees and was amazed by the infrastructure available to the students.

We went on a sight seeing trip to north Goa with its beautiful beaches, churches and forts. It was occupied by the Portugese for a long time, so it still has most Churches intact and the cuisine is influenced by them. The locals thrive on tourism and enjoy an international lifestyle. I loved the clean narrow roads lined with shady trees and lovely houses in bright colors. I wish I had a 2-wheeler to zoom around the city and explore but a cab ride was equally exciting. The balmy weather makes you feel relaxed and inertia starts acting on you once you settle down on the sands of a beach.

My journey continued to my native place to visit my Granny and relatives, the place where my parents grew up. It had been almost 5 years since I had not been there. The bus trip from Goa to my village is incredibly beautiful. Steep, winding roads through the thick tropical forests of the Western Ghats with glimpses of rivers flowing through the valleys. The ghat section is pretty remote with no signs of human life and no cellphone coverage untill you come to the top of the hills. I used to travel every summer to this beautiful place when I was a kid and I was eager to see my village.

We reached in the night and just slept off. The next morning was a crisp dewy February morning with flowers blooming everywhere and the smell of dosas waking me up from my cozy slumber. It was great to talk to my granny after so long and hear her stories. I got to know how she got married when she was 12 years old and used to live with my grand dad and his mom in a small shack. Now that shack is a huge ancestral mansion with three floors and acres of bountiful land. I also got to know how my parents got married by accident and had not dad visited my mom that fateful day, I would never have been born.

 The primary business of in my village is the sale of beetul nuts which is used in paan. We have huge plantations of them which look similar to palm trees, along with lots of coconut and banana trees. I walked through the plantations with my uncle and saw how it was maintained. The fruits are plucked in December when ripe and then spread in the backyards and on roofs to dry for a couple of months. Then the dried fruits are cut to reveal the nut inside. The red ones are the pricey ones which are sold in the market while the white nuts are consumed at home after every meal.

When I was a kid, I was an introvert and never used to talk to my cousins. During my summer vacations, my favorite place was the cow shed in the backyard. I used to spend hours playing with the calves and feeding them hay. I was excited to meet a new member this time – a 20-day old calf with beautiful creamy fur and innocent eyes which I instantly befriended.

We get milk daily from the cows and buffaloes at home and also have a biogas plant in the backyard generated from the manure and is used for cooking. In a way, this village has been a lot advanced in terms of sustainability and using renewable energy. Now that I work in the energy business, I appreciatd the use of available resources for generating energy rather than depend on conventional sources. The frequent power cuts do not hamper life because they have worked their way around it. My aunt still uses the stone grinder for making chutneys everyday because mixers are unreliable. I had a few ideas to improve their lives using solar energy and automatic water pumps but it would need some time to study and design the system. I was feeling like Shahrukh Khan in the movie Swades who returns home and builds a hydro generator to power his village.

After a heartful chat with everyone and lots of traditional delicacies which my granny made for me. A pumpkin sweet which is made by wrapping the pumpkin and rava mixture in banana leaf pockets and steaming them over a wood fire. Its totally worth the fats accumulating in my body.

We returned back to Hyderabad and had just two days to pack up and enjoy mommy’s cooking. I feel sad to leave my parents alone. I pray to God to keep them safe, healthy and happy. Wish they came to the US, it would be so much fun to show them around. Till then, I will miss India!

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